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2007.10.11

* UNICEF: Helping children stay in school in the occupied Palestinian territory
* 24 Sep 2007

The basic right of children to go to school is continually threatened in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Access to schools is regularly jeopardized by Israeli military operations and intra-Palestinian conflict.

Children in Hebron are among the most affected. Palestinians here are among the poorest… and parents often cannot pay for their children’s school fees.

Students coming to the school have to pass through a military outpost manned by Israeli military

Students with disabilities face an even greater challenge in getting to school. Schools are not equipped for children with physical disabilities.

This is Aya. She is 10-years old and has a physical disability. For her, the problem of access is doubled.

Aya goes to school everyday with her 13- year old sister Islam and returns home with her brother Jasem, who push her wheel chair through Hebron and an Israeli military checkpoint.

SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Islam Hejazy Gheith 13-year-old 8th grade (Aya’s sister):  “Every morning I come to school with my sister Aya, we face lot of difficulties such walking near the army and the checkpoints.”

But these difficulties don’t stop Aya, who has the help of family and friends, and also, a passion for school.

SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Aya Hejazy Gheith 10-year-old 4th grade: “I’m Happy because I’m back to school so I can see my friends, learn, study and write.”

Her classmates jump in to assist her in her daily movements at school. The most helpful classmate is her best friend 9-year old Bayan.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Bayan Abu Odeh 9-year-old 4th grade (Aya’s friend): “I’m really happy because I returned to school, here I saw again Aya my best friend and I help her.”

Despite the poor school conditions and deteriorating quality of education, UNICEF is working to keep children in school – especially girls.

SOUNDBITE (English) Ms. Wafa Obeidat Anani, Hebron Project Officer, UNICEF: “Going back to school is very important for children, mainly for girls, it brings a sense of normality in their lives in an abnormal context in the H2 area in Hebron.”

With the help of its partners and governments, UNICEF is having a back to school campaign to provide remedial teaching, math and science kits and 50,000 school bags, to help ensure all children go to school and stay in school. A very important endeavour, with children like Aya, who have a passion for learning even in troubled times.


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